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cal workings of the school-room, so that teachers can really know any better what to do. Each teacher is left to his own knowledge and experience. We had a paper read a few years ago in this city, for which a prize was awarded, taking the ground that the intellect might be cultivated to any extent, and yet the morals not be essentially improved. There was a very warm discussion, and I believe it was finally cast aside, because it was maintained that the knowing powers can be cultivated, and not improve the moral nature. I believe this is true. I am glad there was so much presented last night, in the lecture to which we listened, that can be made practical. The controlling powers of conscience I believe must be educated mainly by school discipline, and by presenting present duty — duty in the school-room and in the play-ground. It is a good plan to ask questions on the subject of the reading lesson, as to the right and wrong of the actions described in the lesson.
Hon. Nathan Hedges, of New Jersey, said, He desired to correct the remark of the last speaker, as to what occurred at the meeting of the Institute in New Haven twelve years ago, respecting the paper referred to. I cannot, said Mr. H., repeat the topic discussed, but the amount of it was,
66 What moral influence has the cultivation of the intellectual powers upon the people?” A very able lecture was given, which took more than two hours to hear; it was submitted to the Board of Censors, and they awarded it the premium. It then came before the Institute, and it was not decided as the gentleman seems to recollect. He seems to think, if I understand him, that the conclusion arrived at was that the mental powers may be cultivated to any extent, and yet have no moral influence upon the people, and that, upon that conclusion, it was thrown out.
The real state of the case was this. In a very elaborate
paper, one of the most aged and respected members of this Institute, one who stood second to no man for moral influence, after a long investigation, came to this conclusion : the more education, the more crime; the less education, the less crime. He instanced Prussia, where increased education had been attended with increasing crime; he instanced Scotland and New England and the city of New York, and in all these places, he said, increased education had been attended with increasing crime. This essay was heard by the Institute, and was passed in silence. I was then less accustomed to the Institute than
I was anxious about it, I said to myself, “ Shall I go home to New Jersey, and say to my friends, the educators of New Jersey, that the educators of New England say, “The more education, the more crime ?' We had better shut up our school-houses, then.” A little conversation with two gentlemen, who are here now, led to the determination to bring up the subject for discussion the next morning, and the result was that the censors agreed not to publish the essay.
Now, as to the method of communicating moral instruction, I think it is practicable for every teacher here. It is a subject that has occupied my attention for many years. It is attended with difficulties, but it has imperious claims upon every teacher who undertakes to mould the minds of immortal beings. We cannot ignore this question; if Christians, we cannot neglect it. What shall we do? To make my views understood, take the subject of truth for an illustration. With me it has always been a fundamental idea that my boys must speak the truth — no doubt about it, no prevarication, no twist, no turn. On truth I will put honor, and on untruth I will put dishonor. How shall I effect it? The first thing is for the teacher himself to be the personification of truth. In the simple language of the New Testament, let his yea be
yea; and his nay, nay. Say nothing but what is to be law; nothing but what will be true. Never disappoint a pupil; never deceive him; never threaten, and forget the threat; never caution him, and forget the caution; and in no way say a word to him or before him or about him that he shall say was not exactly true, clear and square. The teacher is the main spring; and if he is sound, all around him will move in order and regularity. That simple matter is what makes some of our schools places of order and study and moral worth, while others are the vestibules of Bedlam for the want of it.
The teacher should be wary, notice every scholar without seeming to notice him, mark every occasion when a boy may be induced to deny the truth; and always where a boy comes up and confesses his wrong, and answers promptly and ingenuously, place him before the school as always to be respected and honored, and always take his word at the first; give him unquestioned credit for truth till he falsifies. If another falsifies his word, and it comes to you privately, talk to him privately. If it comes before the school, let it be noticed, and say, “ If it is repeated, my boy, we cannot trust you, we cannot respect your word; I hope you will cultivate a good conscience and gain our respect. But for the present you have spoiled your word, and we cannot take it.” • Mr. Morse, of Hartford, gave his impressions of the result of the criticism upon the paper presented at the former meeting by Mr. Pierce, of Massachusetts; to which Mr. Hedges briefly responded, to correct the impression of the gentleman, which was deemed erroneous.
Rev. Charles Hammond, of Monson, Massachusetts, said, To give moral instruction is more than to teach rules of moral conduct. Moral suasion has an element of coercion in it, otherwise suasion in favor of morality may have an immoral tendency.
If the end of moral instruction be moral character, its processes must be executive as well as preceptive. The word
instruct involves the idea of teaching with a view to its end, which is to set in order, to fashion, to form, and sometimes to reform. When a parent or a teacher makes a child mind, he causes the child both to give heed to or understand a rule of duty, and also to obey it.
A“ spoilt child” is one who does habitually what he perfectly knows he ought not to do. And the process of spoiling consists in making the matter of duty perfectly plain by abundant talk and endless repetition of rules, and allowing them to be broken with impunity. The conscience is seared by the habit of resisting the faultless precepts of the fondest friends. I was glad that the lecturer last evening (President Wooleey) referred to the moral effect of discipline as something done. The distinction between vices and crimes, and the relations between them, should be defined, and carefully considered.
As educators of the young, we have chiefly to do with their vices, before they are old enough to be guilty of crimes for which they are amenable to the laws of the land.
The Bible and a pure morality treat vice as a sin; but popular sentiment often regards vices as faults only; so venial as to be closely allied to the minor virtues, to be avoided, as, on the whole, disreputable, but not bad enough to affect the moral character very much.
But we know that the consequences of vice are terrible ; and they follow after the offence so surely, and cling so close, that Dr. Todd was quite right in saying that “vice” should be spelled “vise,” so closely does it resemble in its adhesive power the griping instrument of the blacksmith.
We live at a time when vice among the young prevails to an alarming extent, and one great vice, that of intemperance, has become as rampant as ever it was before the great reform begun by Beecher, Hewett, and their compeers.
We have laws of prohibition, but they are a dead letter in all our cities, and are fast becoming so everywhere in all rural places. We are in a bad way, for we have laws which both the friends and the enemies of temperance are perfectly satisfied with. The Maine law is in its theory so perfect that the best men will not change it. In its practical results it is so inoperative that the worst men are perfectly satisfied with it
And now what shall the friends of morality do? what shall we as teachers of morality do? Surely no question of all the perplexing problems of our day, is more difficult or more momentous than this?
One thing is clear. That lax laws will not improve low morals, and that low morality destroys the life of the best laws.
President Cowles, of Elmira College, New York, said, He was especially interested in this discussion. We have devoted time and attention to the great work of general education, and with the most munificent results, so that we have a splendid system of American education, perhaps not equal to that of some European countries, in some respects. But we have the germ of one superior, which lies in this, that we give a larger place to the principles of morality and the seeds of true religion, and it is to this point that our attention should be directed for the coming century. For I conceive that soul growth, in all its variety of cause and possibilities, is the very object of the teacher's work; not merely the knowing, but the culmination of all in exective decisions. I think the gentleman who preceded me (Mr. Hammond) has struck the right key. Morality must not consist of the knowing powers, nor of the sentiments merely, but it must be ripened in choices of the will; there must be the full execution. History is not complete until the will carries out the impression. The school